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Dubai skyscraper touted
as tallest-to-be marks 100 floors
Burj Dubai skyscraper under construction here reached its 100th
story on Tuesday, nearly two-thirds of the way in its relentless
climb to become the world's tallest building by next year.
With 3,000 laborers adding a new floor nearly every three days,
the US$1 billion (euro770 million) spire is days away from
surpassing a neighboring skyscraper that is currently the
tallest in the Mideast and Europe, Dubai-based developer Emaar
When finished in two years, the Burj Dubai is expected to rise
beyond 700 meters (2,300 feet) and more than 160 floors --
dozens of stories taller than skyscrapers in Taiwan, Chicago or
anywhere else. Emaar isn't releasing its plans for the final
height so it can add more stories if a competing developer
mounts a challenge.
Predictions on skyscraper Web sites say the cylindrical Burj
will loom over the city from a height of 800 meters (2,600 feet)
"The tower is a symbol of the city's pride and a statement of
our arrival on the global scene as one of the world-class
cities," Emaar chairman Mohammed Ali Alabbar said in a prepared
Exhibiting a flair for the luxurious that is typical of Dubai,
one of the skyscraper's high-profile tenants will be the Armani
Hotel, developed with Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani.
The spire will also contain private apartments and offices.
The world's tallest current building, at 101 floors and 509
meters (1,671 feet), is the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, though
Toronto's CN Tower is 55 meters (180 feet) higher, largely
because of its huge antenna.
The dramatic concrete and steel framework of the Burj Dubai has
risen 347 meters (1,140 feet) above the surrounding desert since
excavations began in January 2004. The area surrounding the
tower is the site of a US$20 billion (euro15.44 billion) overall
development that includes several smaller towers set amid
winding canals and a gargantuan shopping mall.
Motorists on the adjacent highway get dramatic daily views of
the tower's progress, with 10 cranes and the world's fastest
construction hoists zipping concrete slabs and giant bundles of
steel rods to dizzying heights. The construction division of
South Korean conglomerate Samsung is building the Burj Dubai,
which is one of just six buildings in the world that are 100 or
more stories high, Emaar said.
three-day-per-story construction technique was pioneered on
skyscrapers in South Korea and involves pumping liquid concrete
into a form that is removed and jacked to a new level after
fresh concrete is allowed to dry for just one day, said Beejay
Kim, Samsung's Dubai-based business manager. "We're not breaking
any speed records, just the height record," Kim said.
The silvery steel-and-glass building will restore to the Middle
East the honor of hosting the earth's tallest structure -- a
title lost in 1889 when the Eiffel Tower upset the 43-century
reign of Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.
Only one building in the Middle East remains taller: the nearby
Emirates Office Tower, a skyscraper resembling a razor blade
that rises to 355 meters (1,165 feet).
Elsewhere in the Mideast, Dubai's sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel
stands at 321 meters (1,053 feet) and the Kingdom Center in the
Saudi capital Riyadh is 302 meters (991 feet).
Europe's tallest building, the Triumph Palace in Moscow, rises
to just 264 meters (866 feet).
Asked how long the Burj Dubai would hold the world record, Kim
said he was unsure.
"If anyone is looking for an even taller building, we are happy
to build it," he said.
The Persian Gulf city of Dubai has staked its fame on bold
engineering, building attention-grabbing projects including
manmade resort islands shaped like palm trees, a mall with
indoor skiing, and a vast Disney World-style amusement complex
that includes plans for an apartment building that rotates on
Dubai began building skyscrapers to gain international prestige,
not, like Hong Kong and New York, because of a shortage of land.
But Dubai's skyscraper binge has jacked up land prices so much
that tall buildings are the only feasible use for coveted
building lots in the city's central district.
The Burj Dubai owes its shape to American architect Adrian
Smith, of the Chicago firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Smith
also designed Shanghai's 420-meter (1,378-foot) Jin Mao tower,
the world's fifth tallest.
The other 100-story buildings are: The Sears Tower in Chicago
(110 floors); Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea (105 floors); the
Empire State Building, New York (102 floors); Taipei 101 (101
floors); and the John Hancock Center, Chicago (100 floors).